That rings especially true considering that his two prior LPs were an original monologue set to music (2016's Sees All Knows All) and a vibrant Sonny & the Sunsets record that explored '80s new wave with producer Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs (2016's Moods Baby Moods).
Still, he doesn't revisit his earliest folk proclivities here; rather, Rod for Your Love re-embraces '60s-inspired guitar pop, both in terms of structure and, to a large degree, arrangements.
(Smith has explained that he chose to release it as a solo album because he was writing about himself.) While it is a rock-combo album at heart, there are plenty of extra touches, like ornamental keyboards and percussion, including a title track replete with pitched drums, tambourine, and flute voice.
The jaunty "Lost" adds some organ but is memorable for its '50s-flavored guitar rhythms and clean tones.
They top off the janglier "Adventures" with glockenspiel and "doo-wah" backing vocals.
In the meantime, lyrics dwell on romantic affection and the daily struggle of an underdog just trying to get by ("I'm just trying to feel alive somehow/And sing my shooby-doo...").
Relatable and often endearing, Rod for Your Love comforts like a favorite pair of jeans, and for a guy who knows his way around a quirky earworm, it's in contention for his strongest set of songs to date.